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Against Odds, Manor at Holly Hills Clears a Final Hurdle

Manor at Holly Hills could be the last high-end housing development in Frederick. 

Manor at Holly Hills

Timing is everything.

Just as the first tender green shoots of a housing recovery are appearing, the custom building lots that comprise the Manor at Holly Hills have at long last been recorded in Frederick County.

The art of residential land development in Maryland always requires a hefty dose of patience, but some deals truly stand in a class by themselves.

While my adventures with Manor at Holly Hills have not been as arduous as those of my colleagues finishing the development planned for Lake Linganore, it’s been a long and frustrating road nevertheless–right up to the point of recording the lots.

I will save those details for a later post.

Suffice it to say, it has been a great deal of effort for a community that will consist of just 21 estate lots.  But this jewel of a community, tucked into the rolling countryside of East Frederick, is special.  It may well represent one of the last of its kind in this area for a generation or more.

As with many counties in Maryland, Frederick County has in recent years been caught in a tug-of-war between alternating administrations: those that follow PlanMaryland to the letter and those that would prefer Frederick to have some control over its own destiny from a land planning standpoint.

Plan Maryland puts an emphasis on the super-density communities with public water and sewer on tiny lots, like those seen throughout Montgomery County.  Some have referred to this as a form of social engineering that will ultimately change lifestyles and patterns of living in this county if followed to the letter.

This is a shame, as so many families move here for exactly the kind of wide-open spaces standard of living that rural Frederick County has offered in the past.

Lot 102 with Historic Stone HouseIt becomes painfully obvious that there is a high demand for communities like Manor at Holly Hills given that MacRo has already received letter of interest on 65% of the lots with a minimum marketing effort.  This project could very well be sold out before the entrance road is complete.

Given the current battle going on between , it’s highly unlikely Frederick County will see too many more lower-density communities the likes of Manor at Holly Hills.  It’s also becoming harder to find developers who are willing and able to invest up to 7 years to achieve such a small number of lots.

Compounding the complexity and expense of residential development in Frederick are the environmental fees being mandated by the State of Maryland on the 10 counties deemed to be contributing to run-off in the Chesapeake Bay.  Frederick’s share is over the next five years.

Frederick County commissioners have rather than levying the mandatory fees and complying with the state’s interpretation of the vague “tiered” planning requirements mandated by our governor.

How the Smart Growth war will ultimately play out is anyone’s guess.  In the meantime, I’ll watch sadly as a chapter closes on residential development in Frederick County.

But then again, the lots at The Manor at Holly Hills are now recorded (Hooray!), and that creates a wonderful opportunity for a limited number of families to select this beautiful community to build their dream home.

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The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He also writes for


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